UPDATED 9:43 AM PT — Wednesday, January 30, 2019
The Trump administration is rushing to strengthen the electric grid in response to the polar vortex gripping much of the Midwest and East Coast.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with top officials from his department on Tuesday to plan a federal response to the possibility of a major power outage. The officials are unsure how long public utility companies can withstand the extended period of severe weather along with the strain of growing customer demand.
Many utility companies are now turning to coal-powered energy during this year’s deep freeze, because it’s a cheaper alternative to natural gas.
This comes as the polar vortex continues to hit parts of the country with record breaking temperatures. The cold has been blamed for at least six deaths across five states.
75-percent of the continental U.S. is reportedly expected to dip below freezing at some point this week. Official have warned the wind chill may reach temperatures around 50 below zero in some regions. This would create conditions for frostbite and hypothermia.
The polar vortex, which is high-level winds from the North Pole, is expected to last through the weekend.